While under lockdown, our incomes may be severely affected. A lot from our community are freelancers, have multiple jobs or rely on income from industries looking to cut costs.
We’re in a difficult time, mentally, emotionally, physically and economically. While our first concern is keeping people healthy and away from harm, to stop the spread of the epidemic we understand that surviving with your health does not mean your livelihood is not worth saving. COVID finance is essential.
This is your guide to surviving the epidemic economically.
Apply for UI benefits based on your State
First and foremost, if you’ve lost your job you need to file for UI benefits in your state ASAP.
If you’re self-employed or a freelancer things get a little more complicated. You might have heard of the CARES Act passing, giving freelancers the ability to apply for unemployment aid.
This is true, it’s called the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance or PUA. BUT several states are not yet ready to have you apply. In fact, some states are asking for you to wait in order to avoid being rejected and slowing down the process.
Some states like NY are asking you to apply to regular benefits so that they have your info online even though you’re likely to get rejected.
This is important because you want a paper trail with the date of when you attempted to apply. That way your pay can be backdated as far back as possible.
Keep in mind that your state will likely have ongoing updates on when and how to apply. You need to stay on that.
Do an Overhaul of Expenses
While you wait for the government to sort itself out, you need to take a good hard look at your expenses. You may have found that because you’ve been stuck home your ability to spend money on going out has lessened. Do not use this as an excuse for online shopping.
I REPEAT DO NOT ONLINE SHOP JUST BECAUSE YOU’VE GOT SOME UNEXPECTED MONEY.
Don’t get me wrong. You can still buy essentials, but just imagine how dumb you feel when you need money for groceries and you spent $200 on new kicks you can’t even wear anytime soon.
We’re in for a long time, not a good time.
Ask yourself what subscriptions you can do without. See if you can call in and cancel gym memberships, and other in-person activities.
Make calls to push back bills
Many services like credit card companies, phone service, and internet service providers are offering to push back bills if you need it. Of course, this doesn’t cancel that debt but if you’re at the point where you’re between buying food and essentials and paying your phone bill, at least you’ll have an easier time choosing.
It’s also important to note that many cities and states have made eviction illegal during this time. So if you cannot pay your rent, or if you’d rather hold on to rent money just in case check with your local gov on whether you’re protected.
While many activists like are working on securing the cancelation of rent during these few months, take what you can get. And if you can help organize, do it. Housing Justice for All is working on canceling rent in NY. Several other countries have already canceled rent and provided far more assistance to their citizens.
This may be a bit redundant but you really can’t keep things the way they were.
You need to create a quarantine budget. Either use an app like Mint, or Empower, or go old school since you have the time and create a spreadsheet. Google sheets has a premade one that’s really useful.
Because it requires you to manually input what you spent each day, it also might stop you from making frivolous spending decisions because you have to face them sooner rather than later.
If you’ve got some money in stocks take extra time to read up on how those companies are doing and if industry pros are foreseeing more massive loss. You might be able to use these ups and downs in the market to finesse some quick come-ups.
Keep in mind that selling stock and cashing out might take a few days, but it’s there when you need it.
You’ll also be getting a stimulus check if you’ve filed your taxes this year or in recent years. If you still haven’t filed, online filing like TurboTax is still an option.
Remember that this check is NOT an advance on income tax, it’s free a $1200 bag. You will NOT have to pay this back via taxes next year.
But it might be smart to either use this money to invest or at the very least keep in savings and only use on essentials. A rule of thumb in finance is money today is worth more than money in the future.
We need to play this right.